|Born||20 Aug 1903|
|Died||16 May 1947|
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
ww2dbaseZhang Lingfu was born into a farming family in Dongda Village, Dongda County, Shaanxi Province, Qing Dynasty China in 1903. His father was Zhang Hong'en. After studying with a private tutor until the age of 10, he enrolled in an elementary school in nearby Xi'an County and then the Xi'an Middle School. Graduating from the Shaanxi First Provincial Teacher's School in 1923, he was briefly a teacher at an elementary school. In 1924, he entered Peking University in Beiping, China, but by late 1924, he would drop out due to his inability to afford the tuition. Around the same time, he became involved in anti-Japanese student organizations, and quickly learned the students' lack of influence in the realm of politics. In frustration, he took the entrance examination to the Whampoa Military Academy in Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China; he was accepted into what was to be the 4th graduating class. He graduated from Whampoa in 1926 as an infantry officer and immediately saw action during the Northern Expedition with the 1st Division of the National Revolutionary Army. In 1932, he participated in the anti-Communist campaign, during which his gallantry was personally commended by General Hu Zhongnan and Chinese leader Chiang Kaishek. Between 1934 and 1935, he participated in the campaign against the forces of the Jiangxi Soviet. In 1936, he suspected his wife Wu Hailan of stealing military documents from him; when he confronted her, she denied all involvement. Believing that she was a spy for the Communists, Zhang shot and killed her. Wu's parents went to Song Meiling, Chiang Kaishek's wife, who pressed Chiang to act upon Zhang's vigilantism. In order to save Chiang, Hu, and other superiors of trouble, Zhang traveled to the capital of Nanjing and turned himself in. Reluctantly, Chiang sentenced Zhang to a ten-year sentence at the Tiger Bridge Prison in Nanjing. Although Wu was never proven to be a spy, it was found, some years later, that Wu's brother was a spy for the Communists, thus it was possible that she was one as well.
ww2dbaseIn 1937, the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War marked the start of WW2 in China. Chiang released him from imprisonment, telling him to work off of his sentence by scoring victories. During the Second Battle of Shanghai, he first served as a staff officer then the commanding officer of 305th Regiment of 153rd Brigade of Chinese 51st Division; in the latter role, he covered the retreat of Chinese forces from the area. In 1938, at the Battle of Wanjialing, he personally led a detachment that scaled a mountain cliff to cut off a retreat route of Japanese 106th Division; for this, he was awarded the Order of the Cloud and Banner with a promotion to command the 153rd Brigade. In Mar 1939, he was wounded in his left leg during the Battle of Nanchang, but continued to lead his troops through the Battle of Changsha against medical advice; his leg would heal poorly as the result, causing him to limp for the remainder of his life. For his successes at Nanchang and Changsha, Chiang promoted him to the deputy commanding officer of the 58th Division. In 1941, he became the commanding officer of 58th Division. In 1943, he personally led a task force which successfully relieved the besieged city of Changde;l for this, he was awarded the Order of the Cloud and Banner, 4th Class. In May 1944 during the Battle of Hengyang, his unit, among others, failed in his attempt to relieve the encircled 10th Corps (General Fang Xianjue); Zhang's performance came under scrutiny, but he was not reprimanded for the failure. He was nevertheless removed from front line command, though Chiang secured him a place in the advanced general officers course in the Army Military Academy, which he attended between Feb and Jun 1945. In Apr to May 1945, he achieved victory in the defense of western Hunan Province, China; for this, he was awarded the Order of the Sacred Tripod, 3rd Class and was promoted to the rank of lieutenant general to command the 74th Corps.
ww2dbaseAfter WW2, Chinese government's poor finance stance led to a reduction of the size of the military despite the imminent resumption of the civil war against the Communists. In Apr 1946, Zhang's 74th Corps was reduced in size, becoming the 74th Division. Zhang ordered the 74th Division, stationed at Nanjing which saw extensive damage during the war, to assist in the rebuilding of homes, which earned him a good reputation with the general population. It was around this time that he inadvertantly offended fellow genreal Li Tianxia, the commanding officer of the 83rd Division, who had already been jealous of Zhang's position before Chiang Kaishek.
ww2dbaseIn mid- and late-1946, Zhang's 74th Division saw repeated victories at Huaiyin, Huai'an, Baoying, and several other towns and county seats, leading to him being awarded the Order of the Cloud and Banner, 3rd Class. In Oct 1946, he surprised the Communists by capturing the strongly garrisoned Lianshui and held it for two days before the Communists were able to dislodge his troops. In Dec 1946, he attacked Lianshui again, capturing it after a 14-day battle that caused major casualties on the Communists side. As the Communists retreated into Shandong Province, the 74th Division spearheaded the pursuit that would become the Battle of Menglianggu. Zhang's superior Tang Enbo realized that the plans dictated from above were faulty (Liu Fei and Guo Rugui were later found to be Communist spies) and attempted to recall Zhang, but Zhang thought he could achieve victory with the original plan nevertheless. He plunged deep into the mountains at Menglianggu, expecting elements of 25th Division (Huang Baitao) and 83rd Division (Li Tianxia) to protect his flanks, but he was surprised to find that they fell far behind. While Huang did make the attempt and became tied down by Communist counterattacks, Li, who offended by Zhang in 1946, stayed put. On 12 May 1947, Chiang Kaishek ordered Huang and Li, as well as 5th Division (Qiu Qingquan) and the 11th Independent Division (Hu Lian), to move forward to relieve the 74th Division; Qiu and Hu's troops were too far to make a difference, while Li sent out false cables noting that his division was advancing when in fact he had only sent a small token force. After four days of fierce combat, the originally 26,000-strong 74th Division ceased to be an organized force by 16 May 1947. Zhang committed suicide at his command cave at about 1500 hours on that day. His final letter said:
ww2dbaseOver 100,000 Communist rebels fiercely attacking my positions, with situation worsening today, running low on ammunition and food. Deputy commander Cai Renjie and I shall fight until the final bullets, which would be for ourselves, answering to the country and leaders above and the people and our subordinates below. It pains me to the utmost that I cannot see my father once again. Hope life will treat father kindly. Hope my child will have a good upbringing. To my wife [Wang] Yuling, we part today!
ww2dbaseCommunist General Su Yu claimed to have captured and executed Zhang and Cai.
ww2dbaseZhang's remains were initially buried at Yezhuwang Village, Yishui County, Shandong Province, China about 15 kilometers north of Menglianggu. Angered by the loss of an able general and an elite division, Chiang fired commander-in-chief Gu Zhutong, 1st Army commander Tang Enbo, and Li Tianxia; Huang Baitao was reprimanded but did not lose his command. Chiang also sponsored and personally attended a state funeral for Zhang. When the Communists would eventually win the civil war, Zhang's remains were brought to the National Revolutionary Martyrs' Shrine in Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China, becoming the first to be enshrined there.
Last Major Revision: Dec 2014
Zhang Lingfu Timeline
|20 Aug 1903||Zhang Lingfu was born in Dongda Village, Dongda County, Shaanxi Province, Qing Dynasty China.|
|16 May 1947||Zhang Linfu committed suicide in his command cave in Menglianggu, Mengyin County, Shandong Province, China.|
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Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945